THE Farmers Association of Pakistan (FAP) has rejected governmentís wheat procurement policy, terming it against the interest of growers. ‘The wheat growing members of the FAP, at a specially convened meeting, rejected the wheat procurement policy implementation procedure,’ said Dr Tariq Bucha, chief coordinator of the FAP, on Tuesday. He said the farmers strongly resented the Punjab governmentís decision to delay the procurement campaign, saying it seemed that it was being done deliberately to delay the procurement.
‘The decision of the Food department to pass on the issuance of Bardana to the Revenue department will be catastrophic as everyone is fully aware of the high-handed attitude at all levels of the Revenue bureaucracy,’ they farmers said and added that the restriction of the issue of only eight bags per acre with a maximum limit of 200 bags and that too with the restriction of accepting the coded bags only was tantamount to restriction on inter-provincial\district movement of wheat.
Wheat growers were of the view that the self-conceived procurement schedule was against the norms of procurement as it entailed the procurement period to restrict to six to eight weeks and beyond that, the farmer would be not be able to sell his wheat. They also expressed concern over the new timings of procurement centre, claiming the staff had been directed to work only for eight hours and keeping in mind the countryís standards of punctuality, the staff availability would be not more than four to six hours.
Wheat growers said some collection points had been merged, forcing the farmers to travel as far 20 kilometres to collect Bardana, etc.
‘Farmers have a feeling that these measures have been taken to restrict procurement in view of the government predicament of carryover stocks, less storage space available and financial constraints.
This will result in a loss of billions of rupees to the farmers besides discouraging them for future sowing of wheat,’ they said, adding that the faulty policy of the government would undermine the national food security.
The farmers said the FAP strongly rejected and condemned measures being taken by the government and demanded that bardana should be available at collection points to save the farmers from exploitation. They demanded the government start procurement across the province from April 15 to continue it till the last gain was procured.
The farmers said under the flawed procurement policy, they were being forced to sell wheat below Rs 800 per maund in some cases while its support price was Rs 950.
They said the last yearís model should be followed which, despite having problems, was satisfactory. They demanded proper security arrangements to avoid any law and order situation. Meanwhile, the Muttahida Kissan Mahaz demanded the government take steps for stabilising wheat support price, which was continuously declining in the open market.
Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, Ayub Khan Mayo, president of the MKM, said farmers realized problems of Punjab government in wheat procurement drive.
‘We fully acknowledge the constraints on part of the Punjab government, therefore, we offer to sell wheat on six-week credit,’ he said, claiming that all farmer organisations and growers would support the government in this regard. Ayub stressed the need to start the procurement as wheat being bought by private sector could be smuggled to Afghanistan. ‘The Punjab government should come forward and start buying wheat as holding of grain with the public sector department was in the interest of farmers as well as consumers,’ he said.